MDC officials get 20-year jail terms

HARARE - The High Court yesterday sentenced to 20 years each — three opposition party officials who were convicted of murdering a police officer during disturbances in the Harare high density suburb of Glen View in 2011.

The steep sentences immediately drew sharp condemnation from MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s party, which dismissed the judgment as “political”.

Lawyers representing the three activists also said yesterday that they would be applying for bail, pending appeal of both the convictions and sentences of their clients.

The three — Last Maengahama, 40; Tungamirai Madzokere, 41; and Yvonne Musarurwa, 29 — were sentenced for the murder of police officer Petros Mutedza, and were part of the original group of 29 Glen View residents who were charged with contravening Section 47 of the Criminal Law Act.

Of that original group, some were found not guilty and released at the close of the State’s case in 2013, while one of the MDC activists  Rebecca Mafikeni succumbed to ill health while incarcerated at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison.

The remaining three were acquitted when they appeared before Justice Chinembiri Bhunu in September.

A sombre mood engulfed the court yesterday as the three activists were sentenced in front of their family members, friends and party leadership, including

MDC vice president Thokozani Khupe, Lynette Karenyi and Morgen Komichi.

In passing sentence, Bhunu said Mutedza had not provoked the MDC activists when he was murdered, adding that Madzokere and Maengahama were liable for the death. He also said because their co-accused Musarurwa was female, they would be spared the hangman’s noose.

The new Constitution prohibits the death penalty for all women, as well as men who are under 21 at the time of the crime and those who are over 70.

“Mutedza was a gentle giant who requested that they finish what they were doing and disburse. Though armed with anti-riot gear, Mutedza and his colleagues chose to flee the scene and not attack anyone. His conduct did not warrant such a barbaric attack. A stiff and deterrent sentence is called for.

“Both Madzokere and Maengahama have been spared the death sentence because Musarurwa who committed it with them is a female and cannot be given the ultimate punishment. I also did not want to extend the 20 years as none of the three delivered the fatal blow,” Bhunu said.

However, the trio’s defence, led by Beatrice Mtetwa, gave immediate notice to apply for bail pending appeal, which Bhunu agreed and tentatively set for December 20.

“The notice of appeal is ready and can be filed today while the bail pending appeal can also be ready by today. We are obliged to make the appeal before you as the sentencing judge,” Mtetwa said.

A visibly upset MDC secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora said Bhunu’s judgment was politically-motivated.

“This being a political judgment, we will appeal and the MDC will continue with its struggle against injustice and unfairness. We will clean the judiciary when we take over power in 2018,” Mwonzora said.

Comments (1)

My God VaMwonzora vane vuvori bgwunotyisa ngavanyarare havo .Vakapiwa mota machembere ne Tanganda kuvhara nyasha ya Chikuni yaakahwina ,mamagistrate achiita uori akasungwa asi nanhasi Chikuni mari yakadyiwa na Mwonzora .Ramba tihwe

mbandaka bolomba - 13 December 2016

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